Former New Madison Fiscal Officer Wanda Lacey sues state auditor


By Carolyn Harmon - charmon@dailyadvocate.com



GREENVILLE — Wanda L. Lacey, of Greenville, and former fiscal officer for the Village of New Madison, filed suit in the Ohio Court of Claims, October 25, 2017, for malicious criminal prosecution, defamation, and infliction of emotional distress in a civil case against the Ohio Auditor of State.

The October 25 complaint shows Lacey demanding judgment against the Ohio Auditor of State in three separate “Claims for Relief” each in an amount in excess of $100,000, the cost of the action and any other relief deemed just and proper by the court. Some of the claims include: “As a direct and proximate result of the conduct of Beckwith (Nichole, Ohio Auditor of State employee and the Special Audit Task Force), Lacey suffered the following damages: expenses for defending the claim for theft in office in excess of $30,000; lost wages in the past and in the future; mental and emotional pain and suffering in the past and in the future; medical bills in the past and in the future and damage to her dignity and reputation.”

Lacey is being represented by Attorney Royce A. Link of Kerrigan, Boller, Griffis & Link, Co., of Sidney.

“In the past three weeks, since the filing of the lawsuit for malicious prosecution, defamation, and infliction of emotional distress, the State Auditor’s Office has: issued an additional press release and a special report about detecting theft in office; issued an audit stating Lacey did not pay taxes on time; and issued a statement that the criminal charges could be re-filed,” Link said.

State Auditor Dave Yost released the 2013 and 2014 audits and a press release Thursday, November 9, titled “Former Fiscal Officer Responsible for $8K in Federal Penalties,” stating that former fiscal officer for the Village of New Madison, Wanda Lacey, was consistently late in remitting federal, state and school district income taxes, and filing quarterly tax reports during 2013 and 2014, resulting in sticking taxpayers with more than $8,000 in federal penalties.

“The payment of penalties and late charges is not considered to serve a proper public purpose and would have been avoided had the funds been remitted as required by law,” auditors wrote.

In addition to the nonpayment of taxes under Lacey’s watch, auditors wrote two-and-one-half pages in the audit detailing more than 20 errors of improper posting of funds to wrong village accounts. The Village of New Madison’s Fiscal Officer Roberta Hocker said the village is aware of the findings.

“We are working to be in compliance with the state auditor’s office, and due to the ongoing investigation, cannot comment any further,” she said.

“It is concerning that this case could become politicized,” Link said.” The Auditor of State is running for Attorney General in 2018 with a platform that he is tough on financial crime. Wanda Lacey does not want to become a political football. She has asked the Ohio Court of Claims for damages for being falsely accused of a crime.”

In December 2016, an indictment was filed against Lacey by prosecutors in Darke County Common Pleas Court, charging her with theft from office, a third-degree felony, that occurred during Lacey’s employment as Fiscal Officer and Tax Administrator for the Village of New Madison from December 2, 2009, until she was placed on administrative leave, November 19, 2015, according to court records. However, court records show the state filed to dismiss the indictment September 25. The grand jury transcript was ordered sealed October 4.

In a Darke County Common Pleas Court Judgment Entry of the Defendant’s Motion to Suppress, filed April 5, 2017, the court concluded the following in part: The court finds that conduct of the officials executing the search warrants was clearly and unambiguously beyond the scope authorized by the search warrants. Further, the Court accepts the offer of the Prosecuting Attorney to bar use of the evidence and orders such documents prohibited from admission herein.”

“Wanda Lacey was charged with a crime she did not commit,” Link said. “The effect on her life has been devastating. Wanda’s picture was on the front page of the paper, she was subject to the resulting internet commentary, she was fired from multiple jobs, she spent tens of thousands of dollars on attorney fees, and it was hard to live her daily life in Greenville after the charges.”

By Carolyn Harmon

charmon@dailyadvocate.com

The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.

The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.